Nicaragua: Mayangna Forest Rangers Get 22 Years in Prison

Mayangna indigenous people presented alongside other criminal gangs. Photo taken from the government’s El 19 Digital

The Prosecutor’s Office changed the accusation against them three times, denounces environmentalist Amaru Ruiz. Another 25 forest rangers are being pursued by the police.

By Confidencial

HAVANA TIMES – The regime of Daniel Ortega sentenced four Mayangna indigenous people to 22 years in prison, they had been arrested in August 2023. The citizens were accused of being leaders of criminal gangs, but —according to leaders in the area— they are recognized forest rangers from the Kahkah sector, within the Mayangna Sauni As territory.

The convicted indigenous people are Rodrigo Bruno Arcángel, 48 years old; Ever Antonio Bruno Palacios, 18; Tony Alberto Bruno, 28; and Oliver Bruno Palacios, 23.

“This Monday (February 5), they were sentenced after a series of irregularities by the Prosecutor’s Office. They changed the reasons for the accusation three times to incriminate them,” denounced environmentalist Amaru Ruiz.

“They were first detained for some murders in the Kiwakumbaih community (North Caribbean), then accused of being a gang, and finally for illegal possession of weapons and threats against two police officers,” Ruiz, president of the canceled River Foundation, detailed.

According to the environmentalist, initially, the four Mayangna indigenous people were accused of the murder of 18 people, as well as six kidnappings, three rapes, and illegal possession of weapons.

The four were captured in a raid carried out by the dictatorship prior to the consent consultations for the BioCLIMA project in indigenous territories. In these raids, members of criminal gangs such as Los Chabelos and Los Rochas, accused of several murders in these communities, were captured.

Eight Mayangna forest rangers have been sentenced

Relatives of the convicted individuals reported on their violent arrest, which occurred on August 13, 2023. The National Police and members of the Ecological Battalion of the Nicaraguan Army arrived in the early morning, forcibly entered the homes, where there were minors, threw tear gas canisters, and arrived with canine units.

They also warned that prior to the arrest, the forest rangers had reported grievances with territorial authorities over the sale and rental of lands belonging to indigenous communities and the authorization of mining concessions.

Police report with the faces of seven of the eight accused Mayangna forest rangers of being a criminal gang

With the sentencing of these four indigenous individuals, the number of Mayangna people sentenced by the Ortega dictatorship has risen to eight. The first four are Donald Andrés Bruno Arcangel, Arguello Celso Lino, Ignacio Celso Lino, and Dionisio Robins Zacarias, who were sentenced to life imprisonment.

These last four Mayangna individuals have precautionary measures for their protection granted by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH) and by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR). They were accused of being part of the “Los Brunos” gang.

Another 25 indigenous people pursued

Ruiz also denounced that there are another 25 Mayangna people who are being pursued by the National Police, an institution that has accused them of murder, kidnapping, extortion, arson, and carrying weapons.

“The forest rangers continue to hide in the mountains. The Police have entered several times to look for them, but they haven’t found them yet,” he explained.

He added that with this, “the act of persecution by the Ortega-Murillo [government] is formalized. We are talking about eight Mayangna indigenous people and two Miskitos (Brooklyn Rivera and Nancy Henríquez) in prison and 25 being pursued.”

Violence in Nicaragua’s indigenous territories has been increasing for years. It is estimated that more than 70 members of these communities have been violently murdered since 2013. Meanwhile, another hundred have been victims of kidnappings, sexual assaults, forced displacements, psychological traumas, and injuries that have left them with amputations or quadriplegic.

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